FASTPASS is a system designed by Disney that allows you to reserve a place in the front of the line, a few hours in the future. Despite the fact that this technology is now 13 years old, the vast majority of guests at Disney World have no idea how to use it! Let’s put the advantage squarely in your court by giving you some fastpass tips that will help you avoid lines all day!
(This article refers to the old Fastpass system that is still in place in the parks. For the new system, see our article on Fastpass plus)
In short, the FP system works like this: You take your admission ticket and insert it into the FP machine. You then will receive a ticket which guarantees you a spot in the FP line for a certain block of time. That block is an hour long and you can only use your fastpasses during that hour window! Once in the FASTPASS line, you will generally get on any ride within 5-10 minutes. So essentially, you are just guaranteeing yourself a spot in the front of the line at some point in the future. (For a more detailed explanation of how the FASTPASS system works, see our article entitled Understanding the FASTPASS system)
Now we need to combine our early start with the FP to fly through the park.
When you Arrive
When most guests arrive to the parks, they won’t bother with getting fastpasses early on. After all, none of the rides have lines, so whats the point? However not using your FP is the exact “crowd behavior” that you are trying to avoid! You should make getting a FP the first thing you do upon arrival. Once you enter the gates, send someone ahead of the group with all the tickets. Their job is to get a set of FP’s as early as possible. No running though or you will be asked nicely by cast members to slow down!
Why do you get FP’s when the park is empty? The reason has to do with how the FP system works. There are two main reasons we want to get them early:
- The first FP will likely be a time of 9:40-10:40. This means we have a guaranteed spot in line at any time up to 10:40. Remember that at 10:40, the parks will be filling up quickly!
- The quicker you get your first FP, the quicker you get your second! While everyone else is running around getting on all the empty rides, we’re grabbing FP’s for later on (when it’s busy) and we’re still getting on all the empty rides!
Now these times may vary depending on park, and we have our park-specific touring plans on the right side of the page under “touring plans”. But what we want you to understand is how the system works, and why you should use it.
Not every ride has a FP machine. So our goal in most cases is to acquire and use two or three FP’s before lunch, and ride all the non-FP rides (which should have minimal waits) in-between. We get the first FP at 9 and the second at 9:40 (or whenever the first window opens). That second FP will probably have a usage time of 10:30-11:30.
So now that we know we can knock out two big attractions with FP’s, we are free to ride other rides that have short lines. Or, if the lines are short, we can double up on the FP rides! First, you’d go in the normal line, then you could come back later and ride it again with your FP.
By the way, you will hear people in the parks say that you can only have 1 set of FP’s at a time. This is not true. If the morning is slow enough, the following schedule is possible!
Early Morning FASTPASS Tips
9:00 Grab a fastpass
9:05-9:40 Ride all the empty thrill rides!
9:40 Grab the second FP
9:45-10:10 – Continue riding empty rides!
10:20 Grab your THIRD FP (Yes it is possible to have three sets at one time!)
10:30 Hurry and use that first FP as it runs out at 10:40
10:50 Use our 2nd FP
Lunch with FP’s in your pocket can be relaxing and refreshing. Any problems you had rolling out of bed early are gone. Usually at this point, the family is ecstatic that they have been able to ride so many rides, and while you enjoy your meal, you’ll notice the park getting visibly fuller by the minute.
As soon as lunch is over, you should be able to do two things: Immediately get a 4th fastpass, and use your 3rd fastpass.
That’s what I call a successful morning! If you are staying in the park all day, rinse, repeat and continue to apply these principles. Or you can head back for some R&R, knowing that you had a great morning. Just do me a favor, no making fun of the people in 60 minute lines on your way out!
Afternoon and Evening FASTPASS Tips
Whether we are finishing up lunch or arriving at the parks late, here are some general fastpass tips for use in the afternoon and evenings:
Beware of Long FP Times
In the afternoon and evenings, the park is much more crowded. The bigger attractions could have FP times that extend out 3-4 hours. Keep in mind that the most you’ll have to wait is 2 hours, but that is a long time in between FP’s! Try and knock out the bigger and more popular attractions early in the morning or later in the evenings.
There is a reason each and every Disney planner tells you to get there early. There is only so much you can do in the afternoon. If you are in the Magic Kingdom, there are a few FP stations that will have reasonable times all day: Buzz, Pooh and the Jungle Cruise. But if you want to ride most of the other big rides, they will have very long times and there isn’t a whole lot you can do. This is why many choose to leave the parks from 2-5 and come back at night.
How to Have Fun at Night
When the lights go out, many of the bigger attractions may not have Fastpasses available. Especially in the busy seasons, your big attractions may sell out. If this is the case, use your available slots on rides that DO have available times. Also, save the big rides for late. The park dramatically thins out as nighttime festivites, like the Electrical parade take over.
In the AK, you can often ride Everest many times in the last 30 minutes. Want to ride Soarin’? A good time to ride is late at night when the rest of the park is getting ready for Illuminations! The nighttime parade and fireworks show is a great time to ride the big attractions at the MK.
Hopefully these fastpass tips can help you to make the best use of your time at Disney!
Next, we are going to look at another key decision that you’ll make in your trip planning. Choosing which day to attend each park.
Let’s take a look at the next article in our series: Part 3: Disney Park Schedule
By: Ryan Shade